In 2007 I got a breast reduction, it was and is the best decision I have ever made (other than deciding to breed). I was told that my chances of exclusively breast feeding were very slim, but I was seriously over having sore shoulders, chaffing from my bras rubbing when I ran, expensive minimising bras, from wearing 2 bras to contain them, from not being able to wear a button up shirt without adding a secret attachment to keep them closed, from the look at my face not my chest when I am talking to you. All that shit was compounding and I decided fuck it I am seeing a surgeon, I visited 2 surgeons, one was just a lipo surgeon, she would suck the fat out, and she actually recommended that I was better off having a full Breast reduction which included the lift. So I found myself a plastic surgeon and I booked an appointment. It was scary shit, but this is something I had wanted for 10 years. I literally had my surgery 1 month later, the Navy was very supportive and gave me some sick leave and it was right before xmas leave so that all just blended into one. I had a really supportive network of friends, bosses and family. My boss and workmates actually would come and check on me, (I think some of them were more curious than others) and recovered well. My boobs were hard as rocks for the first few months, a bit black and blue, and then green and then yellow, and they were so perky, incredibly perky, and my nipples were so high and small (you don't realise how much gravity stretches ones nipples until they get so big that don't even notice them). I remember having sleeping issues 4-5 days after surgery, I could not sleep, I am a front sleeper and I was really struggling at getting comfortable, I was on some pretty good drugs for the pain, but I had to sleep almost sitting upright, and my state of mind was pretty fucked up, I think I was thinking wtf have I done, I was pretty gutted at my state of mind but I literally got dragged out with my mates to celebrate the end of work for the year and after about 2 beers I knew I was ready for sleeping, that night I slept a lot, and in the morning I was back to my old self.
I imagined that once I had these smaller boobs I would be rocking low cut tops/Strapless stuff, it would be awesome, but life does not work like that, you still have a level of paranoia, I actually felt more constricted by what I should be wearing, my nips were so high, that I had and still do have to wear high cut bras, I also would be on full beam with one nipple and then nothing with the other, and it wouldn't even be cold and there were many many wardrobe malfunctions, (especially when drunk) but to be honest I still have issues, and that was almost 10 years ago.
So about 5 years after I had my reduction I got pregnant, I can't really say I was one of those perspective parents that actually really gave a shit about breast feeding or not, I hadn't really had to deal with the idea of it much and I was actually surprised that near the birth of my first child my nipples were leaking, so I though sweet we will give this a go. I had a great supportive midwife who was aware of my surgery and expectations, she even told the hospital ones that to just not push too hard. So after I had Dixie, we tried to latch her, she must have got something as she fell asleep pretty well. We then exclusively fed her in the hospital, but I did have major flat nipples so was recommended that I use shields, we also expressed milk off, the max I would be able to express was about 80 mls a day, and I was literally sitting there for hours while she fed and she would fall asleep every time, but she wasn't putting on a lot of weight, and was pretty much burning more calories trying to feed than what she was getting oh and it was painful, the latch was never going to be great due to my flat nipples, even squeezing them into the shields just pinched them and it was toe curling excruciating. They bled, they throbbed and personally I was cringing the thought of the next pumping or feed. I used to freeze my breast pads and then put them on my boobs after feeding. My boobs never got sore and engorged from the milk with Dixie, they never felt full, and by about 3 weeks it was recommended that I supplement, and when that happened we were away laughing, I would put her on for 15 minutes per side and then top up with either formula or expressed milk. But expressing consumed my time. I would express first thing in the morning after she had had a feed and then throughout the day after each feed, It would take hours just to get the smallest amount. It would be depressing and isolating, you ran your day around expressing because it was hammered in to you that breast milk was this liquid gold and that you should be doing your best.
I remember when I went home for a visit and and my mum said you don't have to do this just put her on the bottle and she will be fine, Dixie was about 6 weeks old, but I kept going, I don't think my family have ever seen so much of my boobs, pretty much the whole time they were out expressing, If they fed her the wrong bottle I would flip my lid, I was happy but I wasn't that happy, I was tired, I was sore and I was over it. I persevered for 5 months, 4 months in pain and then Dixie decided herself that she couldn't be fucked breast feeding anymore, and had no interest in the boob. I still expressed for about another 3-4 weeks and would give her that at least once a day. Once we were entirely on formula then she was off like a rocket. Yes I felt guilty but I shouldn't have. She loved her bottle and she loved anyone that would feed her. With my son, he was so much hungrier and about an hour after his birth he had a try on the boob but was topped up with formula. And he pretty much went into the same routine. I expressed for a wee while with him and I ended up getting mastitis twice, and my nipples were just as flat. So some of you may have used the shields and some not, for one these things are not the easiest things to get in place with a screaming baby, especially in public when you are already self conscious about your boobs. You start sweating and you get flustered and then you are trying to get this cranky screaming baby to feed, it honestly sucks. I lasted 3 months with the wee fella, after my second bout of mastitis I put him on the bottle and was done with it, I knew that there is nothing wrong with formula and it was the right decision for my family and my kids. I felt guilty for him but I was feeling more guilty for the time spent feeding and expressing that i wasn't putting into my first born and once he was on the bottle my first born actually started liking her brother.
I have so many different mums at my classes, some are breast feeding and some are bottle feeding, and quite frankly I couldn't care less as long as they are happy and I support them and my friends in any way they need it, my main concern is that they are happy and that they would never feel pressure to not be able to feed their kids at class, in fact I have fed a few babies their bottles and its great as mum can still get her exercise in. Most of my girls are similar in mindset as me, and I think you attract similar people to your classes. People shouldn't have to feel pressure to feed one way or the other and people should realise that there are so many reasons that a mum chooses wherever to Breast feed or bottle feed, the decision is not taken lightly due to the pressure that we put on ourselves and should be supported no matter what. I really try and avoid the topic now with friends as I don't want them to feel that they need to answer. I only ask my ladies as breast feeding can affect exercise and dietary needs otherwise its none of my business or anyone else how a person choses to feed their child.
So I see that The Big Latch on is happening again soon (August 4th) and this day kinda infuriates me. I have absolutely nothing against breast feeding or breast feeders but I have issues with mums being judged for the way they feed their babies. We should not need days like this, people should be able to feed their babies however they want, wherever they want with out the judgement of society. People are so judgemental and opinionated (old people are the worst). But what I want is people to realise that its a not particularly great feeling being a mum that struggled with breast feeding to hear people dripping on about the health benefits of breast feeding. It actually REALLY sucks, the guilt that you can feel that society puts on you to breast feed, its almost over whelming and some people will try ridiculous things to continue breast feeding, even when their mental state is so off the chain or when it is damn near impossible for them, they have it in their heads that formula is the devil product and they will do whatever it takes to feed that baby. Formula is awesome btw and has fed millions of babies that have turned into fabulous successful humans. No one asks whether the prime minister or Venus and Serena Williams were Breast or formula fed because no one cares, its completely irrelevant by that stage. I honestly have no issues with Breast feeding, my concern is that baby is fed and mum is happy with her choices and is happy and functioning. Happy Mum Happy Child right?
NOT EVERYONE CAN AND WANTS TOO BREAST FEED BUT THEY ARE NOT LESS OF A PARENT
If you are intending to go to a Big Latch on, invite your bottle feeding mates, they need to be included in this too, they need to be made to feel that they are included and that there are so many more aspects of parenting than bottle feeding. They should be there with no judgement and supported just as much as a breast feeding mum, better yet come and have a wine with me or your buddies on Friday the 4th to support being a mum that loses her shit all the time and needs a wine :)
If you have ever considered or know of someone considering a reduction feel free to contact me, or share this post with your friends, especially the formula feeding mums, I would love to hear your stories and opinions. Also hit the little heart to tell me you like my blogs, only if you do though.